At Least Arturas Karnisovas Implied that Real Change Could be on the Horizon

Arturas Karnisovas could have shown up to his post-trade deadline press conference with a wheelbarrow full of puppies, proceed to pie himself in the face, and then help deliver a baby live on the podium … and Bulls fans still would have scoffed.

There is nothing Karnisovas can do at the moment to win back over the majority of the fanbase. The organization’s decision to be one of just *TWO* teams to sit out a mid-season trade feels like a failure. Not only do the Bulls rank 9th in the Eastern Conference with a concerning record against below-.500 teams, but they preached improvement on last season’s 6th-place finish only a few months ago. The current iteration of the roster clearly isn’t performing at an acceptable level, so why choose to do nothing about it when the market is hot?

Karnisovas didn’t have a good answer.

While he claimed that the team was “pretty active” in deadline talks, he also praised this group for its “resiliency” and improvement against the East’s upper-echelon (despite their regression against … ya know … everyone else dating all the way back to last season’s deadline). Where he did give Bulls fans a glimmer of hope, however, was in his insistence that these next 28 games will be played under a microscope.

“We turned the roster around the last couple of years. We’ve done deals that at one time a lot of people said that we couldn’t do,” Karnisovas said when asked about the feasibility of making offseason changes. “I think there are ways to improve it. But the timing is going to depend on when you make those moves. This is just a collection of information the next 28 games of where we are.”

Over and over Karnisovas continued to reiterate that the remainder of this season would be a critical evaluation period, and he did this again when speaking with 670 The Score’s Mully & Haugh, as well.

“We were active regardless of if we made deals or not. But we just couldn’t find any deals that were going to help us this season and going forward,” Karnisovas said. “That said, we believe that this current group is going to give us the best chance the next 28 games. Again, these 28 games we are going to be evaluating this group. The next step is to make adjustments during the draft and free agency.”

As disappointing as the lack of action on Thursday was, this does at least imply that Karnisovas has a stringent timeline on this current roster. He made similar comments about a strict evaluation period when he first took over the organization back in 2020. And, to his credit, he did go on to act aggressively at the next transaction period, trading nearly half the roster at the deadline and acquiring Nikola Vucevic.

Of course, this is different, since we’re talking about a roster he built almost entirely on his own. He might be more stubborn to make the kind of necessary wholesale changes since it would be admitting that his previous vision was severely flawed. But that comes with the job. Karnisovas has to allow himself to be humbled by the process and simply move on.

Look, actions speak louder than words. He’ll have to actually prove to all of us that he’s prepared to do what’s necessary to fix this team if they don’t go on some kind of magical run over the next two months (they won’t). But I am at least somewhat reassured by the fact that he’s putting real pressure on the Bulls’ 28 games after the deadline. If they don’t make the most of this (and they were off to a horrible start with a double-digit loss to the Nets last night) change will eventually be unavoidable.

Could some of that change at least start on the buyout market? More below …

written by

Elias Schuster is the Lead Chicago Bulls writer at Bleacher Nation. He started with BN full-time in 2019 immediately after graduating from the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign with a degree in Journalism (yes, he started with the Jim Boylen Era). Since joining, Elias has been the driving force behind Bulls and NBA content for both the site and social accounts. You can follow him on Twitter/X @Schuster_Elias.

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